Colchester Hospital University Foundation Trust has begun a disciplinary investigation and suspended a member of staff in relation to alleged wrongful manipulation of cancer patients’ waiting time data.

The move follows whistleblowers reporting allegations of “bullying and harassment and the alleged manipulation of endoscopy and dermatology waiting lists”, which has been highlighted in an independent report.

A trust statement said: “Having considered the report carefully the trust has now initiated a disciplinary investigation and yesterday a member of staff was suspended pending the outcome of this disciplinary process.

“The report does not reach any firm conclusions about the allegations but it recommends that the trust consider whether it should begin disciplinary proceedings against any member of staff.”

Interim chief executive Lucy Moore said in a statement: “It would be wrong to prejudge the outcome of the disciplinary process but it is important to stress that nothing is more important to us than the safety and wellbeing of those we care for.

“We will now conduct a wider review and we will be open and transparent as we proceed taking all necessary steps to ensure ongoing patient safety.”

The hospital said it took the action after receiving the independent report into serious concerns two weeks ago.

The news follows a Care Quality Commission report into the trust, published last November, which said there were “inaccuracies” in waiting time data relating to cancer treatment.

Staff told inspectors they were “pressured or bullied” to change data to make it seem as though people were being treated in line with national guidelines, the report said.

Meanwhile, in what is understood to be a separate development, the trust has also called in the police to investigate allegations of drug tampering at the hospital.

An Essex police spokeswoman said she was unable to comment on the drug tampering investigation.